Human beings are unusual in the animal world – and yes, we are part of that world – as we can imagine the future, and dream about what we want to happen there. Dreams are long-term and often stay as dreams. They can be vague or specific, but if they are never acted on, they remain dreams.
Goals, on the other hand, have greater urgency. When we set a goal, we are doing so with the determination to achieve it at some time. Goals can be long-term, or they can be short-term. Achieving a long-term goal will involve completing a series of short-term goals along the way.
For example, if your long-term goal is to establish your own business, you might have to find premises, which is a short-term goal. Raising finance will be another short-term goal, as is choosing a name and designing a logo. Depending on your long-term goal, you may have only a few short-term goals or a long list you have to fulfill before reaching your ultimate goal.
Dreams won’t cost you anything. They are going to be with you forever, and require no effort on your part. Goals, however, require action. In this, they have a cost. Achieving a goal will cost you in time, effort, money, and sacrifice. Goals also have a time limit. Often progress demands that a goal be achieved by a specific time or date. The next step towards your long-term goal cannot be taken until you have completed a specific short-term goal.
Achieving short-term goals will require mastery of many different skills. Maybe you will need to learn about finance, treatment of employees, sales tactics, tax regulations – the list goes on. Acquiring all the different knowledge and honing the skills you need to cope with them will stretch you. You will change too. You may even surprise yourself at how easily you have managed to cope. You will find a way when necessity demands it of you.
Research has found that one of the best ways to guarantee those goals will be achieved is by writing them down. Write down not only the goals you have but also the approach you will take to meet them.
Here are four tips on how to write down goals. Before you start, find a quiet place and a quiet time so you won’t be disturbed. You are going to be creating an action plan for your future. You owe it to yourself to devote time and effort to get it right.
1. Defining your goals.
Probably the most challenging part of writing down your goals is establishing exactly what your goals are in the first place. You may have a vague idea of what you want to do but have never had the chance to think clearly and be focused.
Establishing your ultimate goal will require you to be honest with yourself as to what you feel you can realistically achieve. Bear in mind that you will be able to achieve much more than you first think. Every motivational speaker will try to convince us that we can achieve great things with self-belief, determination, and fearlessness. With this in mind, now is the time to create your grand plan.
Begin by appraising where you are at present. Your current situation will determine your next step. Include in this mini-biography your skills, talents, and achievements so far.
Then move on to write about where you would like to be in the future. What is your ultimate aim? How long are you going to take to get there? What will you have to do to reach your goal?
Include in the overall plan, the short-term goals that you will need to achieve during the journey, and, if possible, include a timetable.
2. Keep the bigger picture in mind.
Creating a timetable means you will have to think of the big picture. Now is your opportunity to allow yourself the luxury of dreaming. Turn that dream into a goal by giving it substance, and planning the route.
Your timetable for success will gradually come together, and you can decide where you want to be in, say, one year, five years, or ten years. Don’t fudge it, be specific, and be ambitious.
3. Now, look at the detail.
Now that you have turned your dream into a goal, and decided on your path, turn to the short-term goals. Consider the short-term objectives you will need to achieve as you progress towards your ultimate goal.
Enter these into your timetable so you have a clear idea of the steps you will need to take. Perhaps you will need qualifications, or maybe have to save up enough money to fund your efforts to reach your goal.
Whatever your ultimate goal, you will need to be in the best shape to withstand the mental and physical demands you will face. Include these in your short-term goals. You may want to lose some weight, get physically fit, or work towards a calm mental attitude.
4. Always be positive.
Whatever you write in your plan for the future is going to guide you through the whole process. You will be referring to it frequently and will need it to be inspiring and motivational.
Therefore, make your plan positive. You will not be inspired if you use negative language. Don’t say what you are not going to do anymore. List what you are going to do in positive tones that will encourage you and spur you on.
If you are struggling to find the right encouraging words, include a few inspirational quotes at intervals through your plan. These will give you pause for thought and will motivate you to carry on towards success.
When you read your plan, you do not want to feel that your past self is telling you off for not achieving. Your past self must be encouraging you at all times and pushing you to greater success. The use of positive, inspiring language now is going to benefit you enormously in the future.
Having a plan brimful of confidence and heartening language will encourage you to achieve your ultimate goal. Positivity will help you to make your dream a reality, and you can then bask in the glory that is success.